te po tahuri atu (matariki) wrote in nz_in_the_world,
te po tahuri atu
matariki
nz_in_the_world

making up ethnicities

I'm interested in people's opinion on this:

People who describe their ethnicity as "New Zealander" or "Kiwi" will have their answers recorded in the main Census for the first time this year. Statistics New Zealand chief demographer Mansoor Khawaja says he is ready to bow to public opinion and stop classifying people who give these answers to the Census ethnicity question under the official category "New Zealand European".

And if you're one of the 86,900 people who have previously listed their ethnicity as a New Zealander or Kiwi would you care to tell us why?
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A Census is part of the cultural production and maintenence of cultural identity... it used to produce NZ European and marginalise kiwi or new zealander but now it will include them - simple as that.

There is no 'real' NZ european or kiwi so why does it really matter. Being white, maybe I'll discover my whakapapa just in time to join the tangata whenua...
I'm interested in this issue partly because it has given official recognition to a new definition of the word "ethnicity" that is unique to NZ.
What do you see as that definition of ethnicity?

It could be the manifestation of our 'small nation' anxiety. A desire to culturally brand ourself with economic links. Or simple acceptance that as people are producing this ethnic identity it can be recognised - there is no greater or lesser authenticity.
Okay because there isn't enough discussion I will answer my own question.

Ethnic identity is a fiction because there is no real genetic truth of ethnic boundaries. Ethnic identity operates in tandem with and informs other types of identity such as sexual or gendered. As such it is a mode of discourse that can be criticised for the conciets of identity.

These conciets are
  1. that ethnic identity is unproblematic and self evident - which gives rise to your anxiety about 'new ethnicities'
  2. that the deployment of an ethnic identity will always pull together a generic sense of itself, these aren't necessarily the stereotypes used in racism but the internally produced stereotypes that maintain a sense of what the ethnic label means
  3. That this stereotype will always marginalise those members who do not match up to the generic standard</ul So NZeuropean deploys a white middle-class straight male as it's epitome and marginalises the poor white single mother and the "homosexual". The romanticised modern Maori deploys a certain wairua tikanga awareness and marginalises urban Maori who have lost links to iwi. The proud immigrant from India vs the Fijian Indian or Malay. Why set up these arbitrary codes of difference, they cause difference and give us words as weapons with which we can run around labelling everything that we marginalise from our own sense of self? :D haha. Take this all with a pinch of salt.
oops - 'cont

So NZeuropean deploys a white middle-class straight male as it's epitome and marginalises the poor white single mother and the "homosexual". The romanticised modern Maori deploys a certain wairua tikanga awareness and marginalises urban Maori who have lost links to iwi. The proud immigrant from India vs the Fijian Indian or Malay.

Why set up these arbitrary codes of difference, they cause difference and give us words as weapons with which we can run around labelling everything that we marginalise from our own sense of self? :D haha. Take this all with a pinch of salt.
Well, I think I listed mine as Pakeha, not NZ European, but that's because I've never even been to Europe and Pakeha is a much better shorthand for person-descended-mainly-from-British-immigrants-but-whose-family-are-one-or-several-generations-New-Zealanders.

I think _just_ putting Kiwi or New Zealander kind of misses the point of an ethnicity survey, but NZ European is definitely a bit silly (unless applied, perhaps, to actual immigrants from Europe.) At least we don't see Caucasian in surveys anymore, because that was a godawful category.
One of the problems with using the word Pakeha for demographics is that it means non-Maori, and plenty of Maori want to list their European descent.
Ideally the census forms would say New Zealander of European descent but apparently people get confused when you start throwing words like "descent" at them.
Agreed with Caucasians. How many people do we have from Georgia/the Caucasus here anyways?
I agree and disagree.

Yes, Pakeha is a muddied word that can confuse many. The origin of Pakeha and Maori show that the words don't have a fixed meaning.. but shift a litt. Pakeha can also mean the fair skinned children of a Maori and white couple, which just begins to sound a bit colour racist as well as confusing should that child want to identify as Maori.

But if people today are identifying as Pakeha then there is a new meaning being enacted - it is official 'marginalisation' not to allow them to represent themselves honestly in a census - I mean they can't be wrong.

Read something on google just now:
http://maorinews.com/writings/papers/other/pakeha.htm

"It is therefore my belief that the term ‘Pakeha’ does not identify an ethnic group. Both ‘Pakeha’ and ‘Maori’ terms instead offer us a way to differentiate between the historical origins of our settlers, the Polynesian and European. "In the beginning we were all immigrants to these islands, our ancestors boat people who arrived by waka, ship or aeroplane. The ingredients of our indigenous cultures too were imported: the East Polynesian language that became Maori, and English; Papatuanuku, and the Bible; Maui and Tane Mahuta, Robin Hood and Horatio Nelson; the kumara and the kiwifruit . . . An understanding of our respective origins is the beginning of our present selves" (King, 1999, p11). Is it not true that we "become indigenous to New Zealand at the point where our focus of identity and commitment shifts to New Zealand, and away from our countries and cultures of origin" (King, 1999, p235). It is certainly true that in a country that has been inhabited for little more than one thousand years everyone is an immigrant or a descendant of immigrants."

I dislike being labelled as Pakeha myself.
I used to, but after living overseas for a few years I came to prefer "Pakeha" because I think it somehow includes my sense of belonging to this land, in a way that NZ European cannot.
Hi people...

Just found this community and this whole census thing fasinates me. Being "Maori" myself, I was quite proud to state that on the form. In my opinion (and only mine)in regards to 'ticking' the Maori box, I guess it really depends on how 'staunch' (and I don't mean in the activist sense of the word) you are about your heritage. For me it's based on a sense of cultural identity and really just 'knowing by default' as to where I fit in the world.

As for the word "Pakeha", I don't blame you for not wanting to label yourself as that. I remember my Grandmother (who is by the way of Maori & German decent), saying that that term stemmed from the word "Keha" or ghost, which as she plainly stated, was a derogatory reference.